By Ivan Saldajeno
MANDALUYONG--Team Hype never wavered despite losing two of its key players and turned back Team Punks, 89-83, in the fourth Slam Rising Stars Classic at the Gatorade Hoops Center on Sunday night.
Team Hype lost big men Germy Mahinay and Jonas Tibayan due to various injuries, but a four-point swing from Juan Gomez De Liaño set the tone for its late run to seal the win.
Mahinay badly twisted his ankle while trying to block a John Clemente layup early in the second quarter and had to be stretchered off the court.
Meanwhile, Tibayan hurt his right hand later in the period and, upon feeling the pain, had to go back home at halftime.
However, Team Hype did not let the injury bug scare them as they began to pull away by stretching their lead to seven, 75-68, with 5:11 left in the game.
The Punks would cut the lead to as low as two, 77-75, with 2:52 to go, but an unsportsmanlike foul by Dave Ildefonso while trying to stop Gomez De Liaño's fastbreak play hurt their cause as the latter made two free throws and a jumper in the repossession to spark a 7-1 blast to stretch the lead to eight, 84-76, with exactly a minute left that eventually sealed the win.
Gomez De Liaño, who was named the MVP of the match, led Hype with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal, while his former UPIS teammate, current Malayan star Will Gozum, added 13 points, eight rebounds, and one block.
Aaron Fermin had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Punks.
Hype 89-Gomez De Liaño 16, Gozum 13, Amsali 11, Gonzales 11, Junsay 6, Coyoca 6, Tibayan 6, Naboa 6, Mahinay 6, Minerva 3, Abadeza 3, Romero 2, Tagala 0
Punks 83-Fermin 14, Clemente 13, Dela Torre 12, Peñano 10, Mallinllin 9, Ildefonso 7 Salenga 7, Oczon 5, Pagsanjan 4, Abu Hijleh 2, Roman 0
Quarterscores: 18-12, 43-37, 62-60, 89-83
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